Bremerton police chief post would be homecoming of sorts for Jefferson County sheriff

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

BREMERTON — Jefferson County Sheriff Tony Hernandez wants to return to his hometown of Bremerton as its police chief.

He is one of five candidates for the job. The person selected will replace Police Chief Craig Rogers, who will retire in February.

“This is a rare opportunity for me,” said Hernandez, 42, who was raised in Bremerton and is a 1990 graduate of Bremerton High School.

“I would not consider applying anywhere else.”

Hernandez’s family lives in Bremerton, his wife works there, and his two daughters, 5 and 8 years old, attend school there.

Other finalists are former King County Sheriff Steven Strachan, State Patrol Capts. Robert Johnson and C. Stephen Sutton, and former Santa Paula, Calif., Chief Stephen MacKinnon.

The pay range for the position is between $116,475 to $141,914, according to Director of Financial Services Becky Hasart, who also serves as Bremerton’s human resources director.

Hernandez’s current is salary is $83,965.

All five candidates are scheduled to meet the public during a forum at 6 p.m. Monday at the Norm Dicks Government Center, 345 Sixth St. in Bremerton, Hasart said.

On Tuesday, they will have private interview sessions chaired by Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent.

The five candidates will be whittled down to two. Lent will make the selection for chief, and a majority of the Bremerton City Council must approve her selection, Hasert said.

“It will be a lot more calls,” Hernandez said of the workload difference between Bremerton and Jefferson County.

“It will be a challenge to move from a rural model to the metropolitan model, and the mission will be more focused.”

In Bremerton, Hernandez would not face the same staffing deficit as in Jefferson County where his department has five unfilled positions.

Hernandez joined the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office in 2001. Sheriff Mike Brasfield promoted him to undersheriff in 2007.

Hernandez was elected in 2010 to a four-year term as sheriff after being appointed in 2009 to fill the unexpired term of Brasfield, who retired.

At the time, Hernandez was one of three candidates selected by the Jefferson County Democratic Party, along with Joe Nole and David Danko.

Under state election law when a partisan office is vacated the party selects three replacements for consideration by the county commissioners which then selects a candidate to serve until a special election can be held.

If Hernandez is selected for the Bremerton job, his replacement could decide to run in a special election in November to fill the remainder of Hernandez’ term, which expires in 2014.

Hernandez said that he is happy working in Jefferson County, where he plans to retire if the Bremerton job is not offered to him.

“I wish that I was as sure that I was going to get the job as everyone else is,” he said.

“I am still the sheriff and am doing the job as if I never plan to leave.”

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 26. 2013 5:33PM
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